Melbourne Home

Jamie Sormann and Alice Maloney

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 25th May 2016

Today we visit the North Melbourne home of architect Jamie Sorman of Foomann Architects, his partner Alice Maloney, a teacher, and their young son Henry.

With a healthy respect for its 1970s roots, Jamie has reworked and updated this modest two bedroom townhouse, with impressive results.

Jamie Sorman and Alice Maloney house-hunted for around a year before purchasing their modernist townhouse in North Melbourne in 2013. The two-bedroom home was designed in 1970 by respected Melbourne architectural firm Morris Pirrotta. Interestingly, whilst completing his architecture degree, Jamie worked for Mike Morris – and he was one of the first people Jamie rang when he bought the house!

Along with his business partner, Jo Foong, Jamie began planning a renovation soon after the auction. Construction started as soon as he and Alice had the keys! The build took five months, which Jamie tackled as an owner/builder. He is a meticulous sort of guy, taking great interest and pride in every last detail of the design, right down to the custom doorhandles.

‘The bones of the house were excellent, however the interior, landscape and fencing needed an overhaul’ Jamie recalls. He re-worked the interiors, consolidating the kitchen and dining rooms, and updating flooring, lighting and joinery throughout. The original besser block walls were given a surprisingly effective update with a crisp lick of white paint, perfectly complementing the original exposed timber beams.’The townhouse has been simplified, with the result of feeling more generous, light and spacious than its 80m2 would suggest’ Jamie explains.

The house has a unique ‘split level’ layout which maximises its modest footprint. At ground level, the front door opens onto a modest living room, beyond which a sunken kitchen and dining room are visible. Up a short flight of stairs are two bedrooms – the master bedroom, with tiny balcony, looks over the front courtyard garden. It’s super compact, but there’s a something refreshingly efficient about this house.

’The retained fabric of the building is robust and enduring; the renovation was designed in the same spirit.’ – Jamie

Jamie and Alice have a small but lovely collection of furniture and artwork – some inherited pieces, some designed by Jamie and/or fellow designer friends, and some re-furbished vintage finds. The Cassina Tentazione sofa is particularly treasured. ‘Our sofa was a hand-me-down from my Mum who received it for her wedding. I think it’s beautiful, and it’s exceedingly comfortable’ Jamie says.

There’s a lot Jamie and Alice love about living here. ‘There’s the access to light and air, there’s the genuine satisfaction in so fully utilising the space, and the pride in the things we’ve designed and made ourselves’ Jamie says. Mostly though, Jamie just loves the creative outlet that his house provides. ‘I love that the house is not precious – it’s an ongoing project that I get to tinker with.’

New fence and gates by Foomann Architects. Gates are cedar with custom stainless steel pull, fence is from honed concrete block, the letterbox is a slot cut from galvanised steel post. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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